What it's like to be a Weakest Link contestant

From BBC - November 15, 2017

The Weakest Link is returning for a one-off special this Friday. The BBC's Lauren Turner went to the dress rehearsal to speak to Anne Robinson (and have a go at being a contestant herself).

Anne Robinson has a problem with being back on The Weakest Link set.

It's not that she's unhappy about hosting a one-off special for Children in Need this Friday - nor that a new series is being considered for next year.

"The problem is," she explains in that no-nonsense, clipped tone. "We have borrowed the French set.

"It's incredibly high. Much higher than ours was. I have got six-inch heels on so it's bit of a climbing job getting on and off.

"I have got to get the floor manager to hold me because I am so terrified, in high heels, of slipping. I think the French presenter always wore flat shoes."

So why has she said "yes" to a celebrity special, starring the likes of Cannonball host Maya Jama, Cold Feet's John Thomson, presenter and writer Giles Coren, This Morning presenter Rylan Clarke-Neal and Love Island's Kem Cetinay?

"Because they asked me," she smiles.

"We have all got a great nostalgia for this show. Almost everyone working on it was working on it through the years. I think everyone was really keen to come back and give it another go."

Everything she says seems slightly tongue-in-cheek, and with a glint in her eye. The whole pantomime villain persona is definitely an act - but it's done with humour and wit, rather than genuine meanness.

"You do not want to drown kittens," she explains. "What you are always looking for is someone you can play with. You want someone who comes back to you.

"So it's not really a question of being mean, it's a question of having a laugh.

What's it like to be a contestant?

Watching The Weakest Link from the comfort of your sofa, you might think it's all a bit, well... easy.

The questions are not exactly University Challenge-level and that whole Anne Robinson "queen of mean" persona is just an act, right?

Er, wrong.

Just try telling yourself that when you are standing at a podium under the blazing studio lights on the receiving end of a withering glare. Your mouth goes dry, your palms get sweaty, and it really does not help matters if you are wearing a pair of flashing Pudsey ears.

Luckily, the special edition of the show I was part of was not going to be televised. Instead, it was me against four fellow journalists - "just for fun" - ahead of the celeb special for Children in Need this Friday.

Once stationed at our podiums, we practice our introductions (I really should have paid attention at this point) and are introduced to Brian, whose job, wonderfully, includes making sure our boards are the right way up when we flip them to reveal who we think should be voted off as the weakest link.

Before we know it, Anne walks up to us and filming begins.

She chides us for being on a "jolly" and squeezes in a few journalism jokes (yes they exist, honest) before getting down to business. I am glad not to be first up but even so, when my question is asked, I start to panic - before realising it's easier than I thought.

'It's a conspiracy!'


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